My dad and I have started playing board games again, supplanting movie night with game night. Our re-entry point into war gaming has been the old Avalon Hill board game 1776. Of course we weren’t content to play the basic game; we’ve gone headlong into the full campaign with all of the highly complex and sometimes confounding advanced rules.
The first time we played this together, I played as the British and got pretty soundly beat. Now that I’m playing as the Americans, I’m still getting beat, but more due to extreme bad luck than any real failed strategy (other than abandoning Ticonderoga too soon).
Unit types are not too incredibly complicated. Both the British and colonials have regulars and militia. Militia are half-strength against regulars unless regulars are present. Cannons and entrenchments modify the combat die roll. Units with supply wagons or magazines can fight at full strength, half without.
The main difference between the British and Colonial units is the one extra movement point colonials have, which allows them to (ideally) outmaneuvre the British. The British, however, can whip around between port cities in their troop transports and dominate the coasts.
I’ve been holding my own in the Georgia & the Carolinas and been keeping some sort of parity in Virginia and Maryland, but New England is lost and upper middle colonies aren’t likely salvagable.
The difficulty for the British is that they must have at least one strength point of regular troops in a major city, or the colonials can pop up there in the form of either rebel militia or Continental regulars. Alas for the continentals, many of these major cities in the north are at ports, and are difficult to ‘escape’ from should the brits take control of the interior. Troops in New Haven are ALWAYS pinned down, for instance, by British controlled Boston and will be crushed before they can get anywhere, should the British have big troop stacks mulling about New England. One of the things that ruined my New England efforts was an early decisive (crushing) victory against Washington’s army. The game begins with a fairly strong stack of supplied continental army regulars dug in and pinning in a slightly stronger stack of British regulars holed up in Boston. 1-1 odds in this game is nearly suicide, especially if you don’t have a lot of modifiers in your favor; even if you do have modifiers, sometimes a poorly selected strategy (1 of 8 cards determining your army’s strategy for the battle; essentially a tactical rock paper scissors) can give you as much as -3 to your die roll. Even 3-2 odds are pretty risky.
Anyway, to make a long story short, my dad was able to move just enough troops by boat to Boston to get 2-1 odds and pressed the attack hard enough to wipe out all 20 strength points of continental regulars outside of boston. I was hoping that it wasn’t an irrecoverable loss, but being caught by overwhelming regular forces on the coast and troops moving in from Canada, New England was overrun and, with the exception of a few forays of patriots who rallied in Rhode Island when the redcoats left, there’s been no resistance or hope to speak of.
I don’t think I’ll be able to hold on until the French arrive; losing control of all major cities in two theatres has dropped off my recruitment and militias to nothing, and even with movement advantages, in the south I’m not able to isolate British regulars long enough to crush them; the tory militia goes home, and while the continentals celebrate their ‘victory’ the regulars run away and rejoin a larger British force that they just can’t get the odds on.